Monday, January 26, 2009

Yet Another 5 Questions With The Homeless World Cup

Kat Byles, Communications & Media Director for the Homeless World Cup, put her busy schedule on pause for a moment to give me a recap of the 2008 event.

1. What was the most challenging thing about pulling off the Melbourne 2008 Homeless World Cup? The most rewarding?

Time zones and the distance to Australia was a big challenge! Most nations this year had to travel to the other side of the world to participate and raise nearly double the funding to get there. Some teams had to travel for nearly 4 days. It really showed their dedication to participate. So when the players were supported by over 50,000 fans during the finals day in a packed out Federation Square in the heart of the City of Melbourne, this was amazing. However, the most rewarding for me personally was seeing 80 women at this year's tournament and Zambia become the first Women's Homeless World Cup Champions. The attitude of the women and support of each other was exceptional. Really wonderful!

2. How much of the action did you get to watch? Were you able to take in most of the matches or were you busy behind the scenes?

I got to see a lot of action, which was great. There are some must see matches during the tournament that even tea with the queen wouldn't keep you from. For the first time in the tournament's history Scotland were drawn against England in a quarter final. Scotland reigning champions came with a strong team with their sights on retaining the trophy. England fielded one of their best teams since the first tournament in Graz 2003. The tension was sky high with both teams determined to win. It was a very fast, tight game that went to penalties. In what now seems to be a tradition in England one of the best players on the team sent the ball skyward and Scotland went through to the Semi-Finals. The semi final Ghana v Afghanistan could easily have been the final. Brilliant play and when it went to penalties the players from Afghanistan could not watch. They made it through to the final and went on to become champions.

3. What were some of the most memorable stories of the athletes for 2008?

They are all amazing. Each player has an incredible story to tell. You can meet some of them in the daily videos that were made by the players and also see some of their dream goals here.

The most memorable team for me this year was Belgium. They had a team in the tournament for the first time in Melbourne. They did not win a single match. However, one player has won his battle against alcohol. Another player has a job. Another player has a home. They won the bravery cup for their demonstration of real courage and determination. They were a team that won the hearts of everyone.

4. What do you feel was the defining moment that captured the spirit of the event this year?

The spirit of fair play. Players fought really hard to win their games. However as soon as the whistle went and the match was over, whether they had won or lost, they went straight away and celebrated with the other team. They were so happy to be playing for their country, so happy to be in Melbourne and united with all the other players. There were many comments that this was an excellent example for the professional football players and teams to adopt. It made a very exciting, competitive atmosphere that was also a real celebration.

5. Do you get any time off or are you right up to planning for Milan 2009? How are locations chosen for the HWC?

We are now on the road to Milan 2009 Homeless World Cup which is all set for 6-13 September. Then we will go on to South America and we hope to announce the location shortly. A city and nation will bid to host the Homeless World Cup. The best bid wins.

Here are previous HWC-related interviews and stories:

5 Questions With The Homeless World Cup

5 More Questions With The Homeless World Cup

Afghanistan Wins Homeless World Cup

Homeless World Cup Starts Monday!

5 Questions With Street Soccer Coaches

Street Soccer Athletes


Lindsay said...

Wow, she doesn't get any time off, does she?

I always thought it would be hard to travel even across the country to compete in a game. Flying across the world would be really hard on me. I can barely function as a tourist. The only good thing is there'd be a lot of others feeling the same way. It's all part of the experience.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Yeah, I understand the energy and excitement of the event takes over...I can see that!